Chicago SketchFest | Festival | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Festival

Chicago SketchFest

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

Every January since 2002, local and out-of-town comedy groups have gathered in Chicago--birthplace of the pioneering Compass and Second City companies, and mecca to the world of sketch and improv--to showcase their work at the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival. The first SketchFest featured some 30 ensembles; this year, SketchFest, presented by Lukaba Productions, presents almost 100 groups from Toronto, New York, LA, Seattle, Cleveland, Portland, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Des Moines, and elsewhere. Some well established, some new to the scene, they represent a wide range of styles and viewpoints. SketchFest runs through 1/15 at Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, in the west, south, and north theaters (supplementary venues are listed below). Admission is $12 per show except where otherwise noted; $40 provides admission to all performances any single Friday or Saturday evening, all-show passes are $20 for Thursday evenings and $25 for Sundays, and an all-festival pass costs $100. For reservations, call 773-327-5252; tickets are also available through Ticketmaster at Hot Tix booths (www.hottix.org for information) or online at www.ticketmaster.com. For updated fest info, visit www.chicagosketchfest.com. Following is the schedule through 1/12; a complete schedule is available at www.chicagoreader.com.

FRIDAY 6

Stir-Friday Night!

The Chicago-based Asian-American troupe appears as part of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs' "LunchBreak" midday entertainment series. a Chicago Cultural Center, Randolph Cafe, 77 E. Randolph, 312-744-6630, 12:15 PM. Free.

Becky and Noelle

This New York-based two-woman team combines music, sketch comedy, and experimental theater. a West theater, 8 PM.

The Waitstaff

The Waitstaff hails from Philadelphia. a South theater, 8 PM.

The Back of the Line

This New York-based group combines live performance with video. a North theater, 8 PM.

Ten West

This LA-based duo--Jon Monastero and Stephen Simon under the direction of Bryan Coffee--cites commedia dell'arte and vaudeville as its inspiration. a West theater, 9 PM.

Big News

Created by former Saturday Night Live writer Michael McCarthy, Big News claims to be "Los Angeles's longest-running satirical news show." a South theater, 9 PM.

Brave New Workshop

Husband-wife duo Caleb and Katy McEwen perform sketches from recent shows. a North theater, 9 PM.

Last Call Cleveland

Last Call Cleveland is described as "a group of guys that are actually funny." a West theater, 10 PM.

Elephant Larry

This five-man troupe hails from New York City. a South theater, 10 PM.

Friends With Benefits

Friends With Benefits describes itself as "LA's hottest new sketch group." a North theater, 10 PM.

Meat

New York comedy group. a West theater, 11 PM.

The Cupid Players

This local group specializes in musical sketch comedy. Tonight's show features all-new material. a South theater, 11 PM.

Karla

Los Angeles comics Megan Kellie and Marion Austin Oberle perform. a North theater, 11 PM.

SketchFest 2005 Documentary

This film chronicles last year's festival. a West theater, midnight. Free.

SATURDAY 7

Comedy Writing Workshop

Onion writer Joe Garden leads a workshop. a West theater, 10 AM, $25 in advance (register at www.chicagosketchfest.com), $30 at the door.

OneTwoThree Comedy

This local trio promises to combine "childlike naivete with adult themes, creating a dark and fragile world where nothing is as it seems and everything is on the verge of collapse." a West theater, 6 PM.

Blaire

This local "estrogen-based troupe" promises to "present sketch comedy from a female, but decidedly un-feminine, perspective." a South theater, 6 PM.

B.R.A.T. Productions

The Chicago group's show Poppy Seed Lane employs puppets and musical sketch comedy. a North theater, 6 PM.

Becky and Noelle

See listing for Fri 1/6. a West theater, 7 PM.

Competitive Awesome

Chicagoans Aaron Gingrich and Mychal Utecht's great strengths as a comedy team are peerless comic rapport and impeccable timing. (BN) a South theater, 7 PM.

Boiled Wieners

Toronto's Boiled Wieners is in town to promote its debut CD. a North theater, 7 PM.

Shecky Kulhan: Theater of the Mind

There's a fine line between being selfish and smug and playing someone who's selfish and smug--and local writer-director-performer Bob Kulhan crosses it many times in this sometimes hilarious, sometimes just plain awful show, in which he portrays a no-talent comedian. (JHe) a West theater, 8 PM.

Big News

See listing for Fri 1/6. a South theater, 8 PM.

The Back of the Line

See listing for Fri 1/6. a North theater, 8 PM.

Ten West

See listing for Fri 1/6. a West theater, 9 PM.

Superpunk

Superpunk promises laughter, speed, and no message in its comedy show. a South theater, 9 PM.

Brave New Workshop

See listing for Fri 1/6. a North theater, 9 PM.

Last Call Cleveland

See listing for Fri 1/6. a West theater, 10 PM.

Elephant Larry

See listing for Fri 1/6. a South theater, 10 PM.

Friends With Benefits

See listing for Fri 1/6. a North theater, 10 PM.

Meat

See listing for Fri 1/6. a West theater, 11 PM.

R Triplette

This Chicago-based three-woman troupe blows through pretensions with sharp scenes culled from its previous shows in The Best of Triplette. The wildly creative, laugh-out-loud sketches skewer mundane jobs, casual racism, exclusive organizations with arbitrary rules, and sex- and violence-oriented television journalism. (JV) a South theater, 11 PM.

Karla

See listing for Fri 1/6. a North theater, 11 PM.

Sketch-U-Bator

Late-night open mike for SketchFest participants. a West theater, midnight. Free.

SUNDAY 8

Comedy Writing Workshop

John Vorhaus, author of The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even if You're Not, leads a workshop. a West theater, 10 AM, $25 in advance (register at www.chicagosketchfest.com), $30 at the door.

Soul Fools and The Happy Heads

"They're crazy and they're black, but don't be scared," says the publicity material for Chicago's Soul Fools. Also local, The Happy Heads is billed as "a variety show performed in a spectacular fashion by an impressive assortment of highly flawed individuals." a West theater, 4 PM.

Jazz Hands Across America and Two Tied Up Productions

Chicago's Jazz Hands Across America presents its new musical sketch show, Jazz Hands Offends America. Two Tied Up Productions, another local company, features two performers exploring male-female relationships. a South theater, 4 PM.

The USA Bagel Players and Jesters Ink

Chicago's USA Bagel Players present NaperVegas, a comedy show about middle-class suburban life. Jesters Ink hails from Richmond, Virginia. a North theater, 4 PM.

Afro and Ohly and Self-Centered Girl

Chicagoans Mikaela Siegel and Amanda Ohly, aka Afro and Ohly, return to SketchFest for their second year. Self-Centered Girl, a group of Second City Training Center alums, perform their "greatest hits." a West theater, 5:30 PM.

Cathcart & Olson and The Big Show

The local husband-wife sketch comedy team Melissa Cathcart and Jay Olson specialize in relationship-based humor. The Big Show combines live and taped segments. a South theater, 5:30 PM.

New Batch of Genes and Train of Thought

The Chicago-based New Batch of Genes promises "fast-paced, character-driven work." Seattle-based Train of Thought performs In Laid Off, about the traumas of job seeking after being laid off. a North theater, 5:30 PM.

Improvidate and Teatro Bastardo

Improvidate combines sketch comedy and improv about dating with opportunities for the audience to mingle. Teatro Bastardo Presents . . . features "sketches aimed at showing just how funny your life really is." Both shows are from Chicago. a West theater, 7 PM.

Sassafrass Productions and Our Fallen Spacemen

Chicago's Sassafrass Productions presents Sassafrass the Sequel, Part III--The Return of the Revenge--Redux. Our Fallen Spacemen cites Spinal Tap, Kids in the Hall, and Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" as its influences. a South theater, 7 PM.

The Cool Table and Crying Diamonds

Two Chicago groups. The Cool Table's pop-culture satire is skewed toward "anyone born between the years 1975 and 1985." The Crying Diamonds promise "engaging characters, eye-catching scene transitions, and memorable physical comedy." a North theater, 7 PM.

MONDAY 9

OctaSketch: The Eight Hour Project

Four teams, formed from different sketch groups and each paired with a director, are given eight hours to come up with a 30-minute show; the results are performed that evening. a West theater, 8 PM, $5.

TUESDAY 10

Competitive Awesome

The comedy duo of Aaron Gingrich and Mychal Utecht appears as part of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs' "LunchBreak" midday entertainment series. a Chicago Cultural Center, Randolph Cafe, 77 E. Randolph, 312-744-6630, 12:15 PM. Free.

THURSDAY 12

Monsters From the Id and pH Productions

Monsters From the Id is a Chicago-based group that's been performing and making short films for close to ten years. Also on the bill: Chicago's pH Productions in Pop-Culture Drive Through. a West theater, 8 PM.

The Backrow and Sketchcore

Two local groups. The Backrow offers an anthology from its five years as a comedy group. Sketchcore features three men and two women who "rip apart the idea of 'a sketch' by pushing a theatrical agenda." a South theater, 8 PM.

!Salsation! and Stir-Friday Night!

!Salsation! presents That Latino Show, a collection of material from its past revues. The Asian-American Stir-Friday Night! troupe performs sketches from its archives, along with bits from its current show, Yellow! Both groups are based in Chicago. a North theater, 8 PM.

The Whizgiggers and Keaton & Lewis

The Whizgiggers' sketch show Hard Knocks proves that comedy is hard, dying is easy. The material isn't bad, but the three performers go over the top when pulling back would get the laugh, then deliver great lines so offhandedly we almost miss them. They do have a certain rough-hewn charm, but they need lots and lots of acting lessons. (JHe) Jonathan Keaton and Rachel Lewis present Bold Print, a character-driven show about race and relationships; Pat McKenna directs. a West theater, 9:30 PM.

Hooray for Fun and Malice

Chicago's Hooray for Fun presents Things Are Not Getting Better. Malice, another local group, performs The Fall of the Duke, a political fable about Michael Dukakis's failed 1988 presidential campaign; Don Hall directs. a South theater, 9:30 PM.

The Patsies and Your Little Ponies

The Patsies hail from Des Moines. Your Little Ponies describe themselves as "Chicago's hardest working comedy rock band." a North theater, 9:30 PM.

Add a comment